Natural Calamities in Pakistan & Poor Governance

By Obaid ur Rehman.

As per United Nations (UN), the massive flooding in Pakistan in last couple of years have caused more damage than the Asian Tsunami in 2004 and Pakistan’s Earthquake in 2005. It is a hard reality that our government has been unsuccessful so far in ensuring such programs through which lives of people living in vulnerable areas can be made safer and easier as well. The poor governance of government has made people living in those areas to suffer and sacrifice a lot. The lack of effective support from respective authorities of government proved to be one of the other major reasons for people in those areas to risk their lives. The lack of infrastructure in those areas which are largely affected by any massive rainfall and flash floods is the one main reason due to which it becomes extremely difficult for people to stand on their feet and protect themselves from being victimized by some hazard or disaster.

Talking about 2005 earthquakes, Pakistan has faced numerous casualties as it was obvious that earthquake of such a massive strength would shake the backward areas where homes are not even properly built. But inspite of foreign aid, government of Pakistan could not even utilize the available resources for the rehabilitation programs of earthquake-affected people. It was just because of poor governance and bad leadership that yet their do exist such people in northern areas which have not received a single rupee from government after losing both their relatives and homes. After the earthquake, most of the relief money was given to least affected areas whereas the most and badly affected areas did not get enough relief support. Inspite of maximum commitment and dedication from civilians and international donor community, yet people have suffered a lot in those destructive areas due to bad governance and improper leadership which could not distribute the financial and other relief aid transparently. According to UK’s famous newspaper, £300 million in aid being given by international donor community to the government of Pakistan after Oct-Earthquake has been diverted for other projects. Such kind of mismanagement had ultimately resulted in losing international community’s trust in government of Pakistan.

The massive rainfall and flash floods back in Jul-Aug 2010 have also snatched thousands of precious lives, destroyed millions of homes and played havoc in Khyber Pakhtunkhua, Punjab and Sindh. It was the best time for government to improvise a proper plan and infrastructure to avoid such kind of destruction in upcoming years. It was all predicted that in next few years, such kind of rainfall might occur due to unavoidable factor of Global Warming. Federal and provisional governments had a chance to build proper safe homes and to install flood warning systems for the people living in those areas which are vulnerable to flooding and areas that are prone to land-sliding. But fate of people of Pakistan has always been unfortunate when it comes to depending upon our governmental resources. Following the next year, in 2011, same kind of rainfall occurred and due to poor drainage system, over-flowing water in the form of flash floods ripped off everything that came in its way. Again thousands of people went into the death-valley because of poor governance and bad infrastructure. During these floods, one thing which we have noticed is the lessened interest and faith of international donor community towards the leadership of Pakistan in terms of utilizing the provided relief and aid honestly. This time, Pakistan didn’t receive expected foreign aid and relief and it was all because of past experience when Earthquake hit Pakistan, as that time government of Pakistan did not distributed the relief money properly. In Pakistan, we can say that one of the major and biggest reasons for the country’s consistent governance disasters is the lack of independent and strong institutions that can prevent corruption. A couple of weeks ago, people in KPK once again paid a heavy price, could not afford massive flooding in their areas and lost their lives due to poor drainage system. We have been facing such kind of problems and bearing huge losses for years but yet our government has not taken effective steps and measures to atleast minimize the damage and to prevent people from such kind of fatal incidents.

Whenever any tragedy or disaster hits Pakistan either its natural or man-made, people of Pakistan are always there to help their brothers and sisters with an open heart. Pakistan Army, NGOs and Civil Societies play a vital role in the rehabilitation process. But the point is that it’s not enough unless state itself does not come forward and take efficient initiatives for the betterment of people of Pakistan. Government should take this matter seriously on urgent grounds that how the damage can be minimized if such kind of natural disaster or calamity occurs again. Government and institutions like NDMA need to speed up their development programs through which we can strengthen ourselves to deal with such kind of any untoward scenarios. Development and safety programs should be started immediately in the areas that are vulnerable to flash floods and land-sliding so that maximum people could be saved if any natural calamity hits the area. Apart from that, government really needs to ensure a pure transparent setup to distribute funds equally where needed. It is the duty of government to ensure all safer means of living where there are chances of life being at stake, so that disasters could not be converted into hazards.

The writer is Islamabad based Journalist and Research Analyst.

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